Disclaimer: HP and Co. belong to J.K Rowling, not myself.
A/N: Sorry for the long wait everyone, Silver Lining is beginning to wind down, I'm thinking a few more chapters probably around 4-5 and this story will be complete. Thanks again to my beta drnic! Hope everyone enjoys!
Chapter 19: The beginning of the end
Draco stepped through the floo from his own home into the lavish entry hall of Zabini Manor.
"Draco," Blaise's shout drew his attention and he whirled around to see his best friend rushing towards him a small, silver blur at his side.
"Blaise." Draco said grinning as his friend embraced him. Outside of school Blaise was a very physical, affectionate individual and Draco had gotten used to 'attacks' like this over the years. Silver was soon clambering for attention and with a laugh Draco bent and scooped up the cat. He was a bit surprised to see Silver here, he had figured with the safety of the Manor Harry would have been running around as Harry but he wasn't arguing.
"He's bigger?" Draco commented as he looked at the cat. He was definitely a bit bigger, not huge but not as small as he had been at Hogwarts.
"Italian food," Blaise said with a smirk, "It's good for the soul"
Draco rolled his eyes though he was grinning as he gently set Silver back on the floor.
"Where's Sev?" the blond asked curiously, it was only during the school year that he referred to the Slytherin head of house as Professor Snape.
"On the beach," Blaise said, "Which is where we're headed. Someone has swimming lessons" Here he looked pointedly at the innocent looking kitten on the ground. Draco also glanced down at Silver.
"He can't swim? What about the second task?" Draco said as they headed outside, the blond was relieved he had brought his swim trunks, though he always did when he went to Blaise's place.
"Gillyweed" Blaise responded, "So he knows how to swim just not well"
"Ah," Draco said as they rounded the corner and he felt the hot, Italian sun on his face for the first time in a long time. Once outside, Silver slipped away and a few moments later a grinning, tanned Harry Potter walked around the corner wearing a pair of green swim trunks.
"Draco," Harry said with a grin, looking much better then the Malfoy heir had ever seen him.
"Potter," Draco replied with a smirk, though his eyes twinkled happily. "So Sev's on the beach? I just can't picture it"
"He spends a lot of time there. I think he likes the sun," Harry piped up. Draco goggled at Harry, he'd known Severus for a long time but he still couldn't picture the man relaxing on the beach it just wasn't something he could understand.
The three boys continued on their way laughing and talking as they headed down the rocky stairs towards the beach.
Lord Voldemort frowned as paced quietly in front of the fire. He was in his personal chambers of Riddle Manor, many of his followers, especially those who were on the run, staying in different rooms of the large, muggle house. The last year had been odd for him, Dumbledore hadn't made any moves against the Dark beyond his usual speaking out against it. Potter was gone, training apparently, though he didn't believe it and weirdest of all Severus had a familiar. He knew he was missing something important, a big, glaring clue as to what was off about this year, but for the life of him he couldn't make the connections between these seemingly innocent, if not odd, events.
As he made another turn he became aware of a large presence in the room, it seemed Nagini had decided to join him. He wasn't sure where she had been but judging by her hissing of rats and men she had been terrorizing Wormtail again, a favourite hobby of hers.
Nagini the man greeted as the large snake made herself comfortable in his abandoned armchair, roasting herself in front of the fire.
Master the snake returned, you seem troubled this evening the snake said as she watched him continue to pace.
I'm trying to work out a mystery Nagini, about this year. Do you remember Severus, my potion's master? Voldemort asked. He spoke to his snake frequently, bouncing ideas off of her. Nagini was incredibly intelligent for a snake.
The dark man? Who smells of herbs and burning? Yes I know him. The snake said, raising her head to watch her Master.
He has a familiar now, a kitten. Voldemort said with a sneer though he secretly liked Severus' new familiar.
I remember. The small grey creature. He doesn't smell like a kitten though Master, he smells like the rat man. Man and animal. The snake said looking at her Master with some confusion, hadn't he known the kitten of the dark man wasn't just a kitten?
Man and animal? Like Wormtail...Voldemort trailed off his mind firing rapidly as he began to put two and two together.
"Potter is the kitten. He didn't go away for training, he went into hiding, but why? Why would Albus hide him?" The man said, red eyes wide as he stared at Nagini. How the hell had he missed that and why was Severus hiding Potter? Something had happened, something had changed Potter, had changed Snape and had possibly changed his odds in this war. He needed to know what happened.
Slamming out of his rooms he went to find Lucius, he needed to know what had happened to Potter. Whatever had happened had happened last summer when Potter had been with his muggle relatives.
Severus glanced up from his potion's journal as Maria sat down next to him in the lovely Zabini garden.
"I have to leave for Paris this evening," the Zabini woman said, "I don't know when I'll be able to return if at all but I know you will look after Blaise for me" She stated, she didn't bother asking as it was not in her nature.
"Yes I will, thank you once again for letting Harry and myself stay here," Severus said as he closed his book.
"Anytime, it has been a long time since I have seen Blaise this happy," The gorgeous lady said as she rose. "Thank you Severus" She said leaning to brush a gentle kiss against his cheek. As she swept away she left the dour man stunned, one hand pressed carefully against his cheek as stared off into nothingness.
Blaise and Harry were seated in the family room playing chess when Maria came in. She playfully kissed the top of Harry's head, laughing musically as the dark-haired teen immediately blushed and ducked his head. Over the week she had discovered just how shy the teen was and loved to tease him, albeit gently as Blaise was very protective of his young lover.
"You're leaving," Blaise stated as he took in her dress, made up face and carefully styled hair.
"Paris. I have plans," she responded as she kissed her son's cheek and gently hugged him. "Severus will keep an eye on you and I'm just a floo call away" She added. She often left her son unattended for large periods of time, when he had been younger she had relied on her friends to take care of him but once he was about thirteen she had trusted him on his own, with house elves of course. Blaise just nodded, returning her hug and kiss as Harry bid her a soft goodbye.
After a few moments Blaise encouraged his boyfriend to return to the game, not at all perturbed by his mother leaving.
As they played Severus came in and settled in a chair, he still had a slightly dazed look on his face though neither boy commented. The evening continued on in quiet contentedness until a gasp from Severus had both boys turning and staring at him.
"Summons." Severus gasped out as pain continued to radiate from his mark as he rose, book falling carelessly to the floor as he headed for the nearest apparition point.
Harry slid into Blaise's arms as he watched his adopted father disappear, they had known this would happen eventually but it didn't make it any easier for the teen to see his mentor, his father, heading off into the night towards a mad man.
Severus landed heavily on the driveway that lead to Riddle Manor. Shaking his head he took a moment to compose himself before he headed inside. He made sure to shore up his mental defenses before he headed inside. He was rather shocked to see no other death eaters beyond the few that he knew were living here. Walking down the hallway towards the meeting room he pushed inside hiding his surprise as he saw The Dark Lord seated on his throne-like chair in a completely empty room. Falling to his knees, he prostrated himself in front of the man before he rose and greeted him.
"My lord," he greeted refraining from glancing around.
"Severus," the Dark Lord returned in greeting. "I imagine you're wondering why I've called you here"
"Yes." Snape knew lying at the moment wasn't exactly intelligent so he was honest with the man.
"Nagini told me something interesting the other day," Voldemort started, this tangent completely confused Severus and he had to work once again to hide his surprise.
"She told me that your familiar, Silver was it? Anyway she told me he smells like Wormtail" Severus paled dramatically. He knew! Voldemort knew about Harry, knew about his son! Mentally preparing himself for battle he was not ready for what happened next.
"Bring him to me Severus. I would like to make a deal with Mr. Potter."
Snape gaped, doing a lovely impression of a fish.
"Deal? You don't want to kill him?" the man gasped out.
"No. I want him to stay out of this war, I don't care if he has to leave England to achieve that, but I want him gone. I know what happened to him, I know that Dumbledore would use him as cannon fodder and I know that you've adopted him. Yes Severus I know he's your son." The man grinned dangerously, watching as Snape fell to pieces in front of him.
"You don't want to kill him," Severus said again, completely shocked by what he was hearing. Wasn't this man supposed to be insane? Hell bent on death and destruction?
"No and you know I don't like repeating myself Severus. I want to win this war, I want Dumbledore dead and gone and I don't care about Harry Potter as long as he agrees to stay out of my way" Voldemort hissed, eyes flashing red. Snape shook his head and refocused on the task at hand.
"I will speak to him My Lord" Severus said softly, this was wonderful. He could move Harry out of England and away from the Dursleys, Voldemort, and Dumbledore. Harry seemed to like Italy, maybe he could buy them a house there, he didn't have to return to Hogwarts, and he would be free. Resisting the urge to grin he bowed his head to Voldemort not bothering to question why the man had changed his mind. He had learned quickly not to question the man and one learned not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Thank you" he added, Voldemort inclined his head as he watched Severus leave before he too swept from the room and towards his sitting room. Lucius, his resourceful Slytherin, had found out about the Dursley's trial and Voldemort being the brilliant, if insane being he was, had managed to figure out what was going on. Muggles weren't often put on trial in the wizarding world without reason and those reasons generally involved abuse if not something worse.
Severus walked in a daze out of Riddle Manor before apperating back to Zabini Manor. Still dazed and lucky that he hadn't splinched himself Severus went off to find Harry and Blaise and tell them the good news. Now all he had to figure out was how to get Harry away from Dumbledore who wouldn't let his weapon just quit the war, but he had a sneaking suspicion that Karissa would help them if need be.
Stumbling through the Manor he happened upon the boys in the family room. Harry was curled into Blaise both of them dozing lightly on the couch. Once he stepped into the room both boys jolted awake and Harry was across the room arms wrapped tightly around his middle as the young teen squeezed the life out of him.
"I'm fine" Severus reassured as he ran up and down Harry's back as he felt the young man quiver against him.
"Scared" Harry warbled out, arms still tight around Severus. It took a few more minutes of coaxing before everyone was seated again and Severus was filling the boys in on what happened. Unlike Dumbledore he didn't keep anything from his son and by extension Blaise because he knew the value of having all the information even if it was a bit too 'grown up' for children, Harry hadn't been a child in a long time and he deserved to know what was happening, what was going to happen.
"What if it's a trap?" Blaise asked after a few moments of quiet contemplation. "What if he's telling you he's willing to let Harry drop out of the war and wants to meet him to discuss terms when really he's trying to lure him in to kill him?"
"If the Dark Lord wanted to kill Harry he would have used me. I was there tonight, he would have killed me or incapacitated me and used me as a way to get Harry to come to him. If he wasn't serious about this then I wouldn't have walked out of there tonight" Severus explained. "The Dark Lord is flashy, he likes torturing people, if he was still trying to kill Harry he would have dragged it out, tortured him in every conceivable way, not offered him a deal" the man added. Blaise nodded but still didn't look convinced, the idea of Harry going to meet that madman terrified him.
"Can I think about it?" Harry asked, he had a lot to mull over, he had his friends to think about, his family and he knew whatever he chose not only effected him but everyone he held or had once held dear.
"Of course" Severus agreed quietly. "Take your time, he didn't mention when he would need a decision by though I'm sure he'll let us know one way or another" the man sighed softly. "I think the reason he's made this decision is he uncovered the trial with the Dursleys. Voldemort may be insane but he has never condoned what happened to you Harry, not for wizarding children" he said softly.
"So he feels sorry for me?" Harry laughed semi-hysterically. "The man tries to kill me but he draws the line at r-rape?" Severus flinched, as did Blaise, they both knew Harry wasn't reacting well to this.
"He is still insane Harry, I just think he sees a way to win this war and he's taking it. You aren't responsible for the wizarding world. You are one person and a child at that. I do not care what you decide but I want you to be happy, to make this decision for yourself, not for anyone else. It's your life and you should be allowed to live it" Severus said softly. He knew his son, he knew that Harry would think of everyone from his former friends to his god awful godfather and would decided to go to war, decide that fighting Voldemort was the best for everyone but himself and Severus wouldn't allow that. The wizarding world of Britain had allowed Harry to shoulder their burdens for far too long, the young man deserved a chance at life and a full and happy one at that.
"I agree with him Harry" Blaise said, "Hang the rest of the world, if they can't fight their battles now then they deserve to lose to that madman. Be happy for once"
Harry sucked in a breath, his semi-hysterical laughter dying as he looked from his father to his boyfriend. Sighing softly he nodded, he would think on it and really think on it.
Harry sat on the beach, the sun was rising and sending brilliant hues over the water. Staring out at the waves the young teen contemplated his fate and the fate of his world. He had snuck out early that morning while both Blaise and Severus had still been asleep and had been sitting on the sand staring at the water ever since. He needed quiet to think and ever since Blaise and shown him the beach he had been in love with it.
He still wasn't sure what to do about this whole Voldemort thing but he also knew he was tired, tired of fighting, of being put on a pedestal while being simultaneously knocked down, tired of hiding. He knew if he chose not to fight he wouldn't be able to return to England but was that so bad? What did he have there really? Friends? Most had abandoned him or most would if he chose to sit the war out, family? Dead well except for Severus who would go with him anywhere. In actuality England had nothing to offer him except ghosts and sadness, everything he needed he had right here with Blaise and Severus, his new friends tended to visit and anyone else who really cared for him would support his decision. Sighing he raked his fingers through the sand, his thoughts going around and around inside his mind in a tangled jumble. He knew what he wanted but could he really act on it?
A hand falling on his shoulder caused Harry to tense and jump before Severus' smooth voice relaxed him.
"You're burning" the man commented dryly, "How long have you been sitting out here?" Harry shook his head and glanced around, the sun was much higher in the sky now and he suddenly felt the heat.
"Hours" he admitted while he stiffly rose to his feet, following his father towards the house.
"Thinking?" Severus asked softly, "Did you come to a conclusion?" he asked as he ushered Harry inside before summoning a house elf to grab him a mild burn salve.
"Yea, I think so" Harry said raising his arms slightly as Severus began to apply the salve on his reddened skin. Severus didn't comment letting his son tell him what he had chosen in his own time. As he worked on Harry's skin he kept an ear out for his son's soft voice and when Harry finally spoke he found himself relieved and happy with what he said.
"I-I want out" Harry finally breathed softly. "I want out of this war and I don't care how I have to do it" he finally said. Severus grinned before crushing Harry to his chest in a tight hug ignoring the sunburn for a moment. He was so relieved that his son had made this decision, made the decision for himself.
"I still don't want to meet him just yet" Harry said, he still wasn't sure about that.
"That's fine. We can wait" Severus said softly. "If you're worried about anyone you can tell them ahead of time, tell them to leave the country" he added knowing that was something that would bother his son. Harry nodded as Severus went back to applying the salve tsking softly over the burn as he did so.
Blaise brushed shoulders gently with Harry as they sat down to dinner. All in all it had been a very relaxed day after Harry had spoken to Severus and Blaise about his decision. In some form of silent agreement Blaise and Severus had gone out of their way to keep the raven-haired teen from thinking too much about the future and had endeavored to give Harry another lovely day in Zabini Manor if not on the beach. The sunburn from the morning had long since been cured but Severus' over protective nature had demanded that his son stay in the shade for the remainder of the day. That hadn't hindered the fun however and now at dinner time both teens were breathless with laughter and pink cheeked.
"Good day then?" Severus asked as placed some asparagus on his plate and pointedly watched Harry do the same.
"It was fun" Harry said though the shadow in his eyes told Severus that he hadn't forgotten what was going on, he'd just pushed it aside for the moment.
"Good" the dour potion's master murmured, "Any plans for this evening?" He asked curiously.
"Draco owled earlier he was wondering if he and Theo could come over for the night, I told them I would ask you' Blaise said.
"I don't see a problem with that" Severus said glancing at Harry for confirmation. The younger teen shrugged he didn't mind the other Slytherins coming for a visit.
"Floo Malfoy Manor and let them know an owl would take to long" Severus told Blaise, "After dinner of course" when the Italian teen made to get up from the table, sheepishly Blaise settled back down and quickly finished his dinner. An hour later Blaise, Draco and Theo were outside in the gardens talking. Harry had been invited to join them but he was tired from his early wake up call and was still feeling out of sorts from what had happened over the past few days, so instead of goofing around with the other boys he was curled up in Severus' lap as Silver, purring contently as Severus read from a potion's manual.
"So how's your summer been so far?" Theo asked from where he was sprawled on the grass.
"Great" Blaise grinned as he nibbled on some snacks the elves had brought out. "It's been different with Harry and Severus' here but I really like it" he confined quietly in his friends. "Normally its so lonely because Mum's off doing...well you know" he added. Draco nodded in understanding in the past few summers Blaise had spent tons of time at Both Nott and Malfoy Manor but they had seen less of him this summer.
"I'm happy for you" Draco said while Theo hummed in agreement, neither had liked seeing Blaise lonely in the past. Theo suddenly let out a yelp as a small, silver blur came galloping over and leapt on him. The kitten nipped playfully at Theo's fingers as the other teen tried to pet the squirming mass.
"Someone's playful" Theo said as he picked up the kitten, "He's bigger" He'd seen Harry earlier of course, when he'd arrived but the change was more noticeable in the kitten, you could tell he was growing a bit and had put on weight which was incredible since Harry had never really been big, or even normal-sized for that matter.
"Yea" Blaise agreed, "Italian food..."
"...It's good for the soul" Both Draco and Theo finished for him. The three teens shared a look before cracking up with a confused looking Silver looking up at them, big, green eyes blinking as he tried to understand what was so funny.
A/N: And there we have it! I decided to go with a Voldemort letting Harry escape type thingy. Remember this is during 5th year so Harry hasn't heard the prophecy and Voldemort still hasn't heard the entire thing. Voldemort is still insane and a bad guy, he's just not as obsessed with killing Harry as he is in Canon. If you have any questions/concerns or you just want to know whats going on in my life follow me on Twitter ( BloodyRed_Queen) or add me on FB (link on my profile)